Pop-up gallery in Grotto Commons celebrates Black History Month


Vydalia Weatherly, Staff writer

Throughout the week of Feb. 7-11, the Department of Multicultural Student Services and Campus Life hosted an art gallery in celebration of Black History Month. The name of the art gallery was “Through Resilience, We Rise.”

“Regardless of the mental and physical pain the Black community has endured, they rise to create beautiful works of art that express their emotions and experiences,” Jessica Hubert, Mercyhurst’s Multicultural and Inclusion Coordinator, said.

“The pieces chosen capture moments in time, bringing to life a narrative that has always been there but is too often pushed to the margins or forgotten completely.”

The gallery was held in the hallway outside of the Grotto Commons for students and employees to stop and look at the
art on their way to and from the dining hall.

There were various artists featured throughout the gallery from Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou, to more contemporary artists like Bisa Butler and Donte Collins.

“While I am very partial to Langston Hughes’ work, the artist I discovered while researching for the gallery that is now my favorite is Titus Kaphar,” Hubert said. “His pieces center those on the margins, in order to rewrite history that is often overlooked or flat out ignored. He uses many different types of media to discover contemporary relevance and connections in the past.”

Hubert made sure to intentionally present a variety of artists to provide students with a diverse view of Black art as well as the evolution of the Black experience.

“The Black experience is not monolithic so it cannot be displayed in only one medium,” Hubert said. “A lot of artists chosen or the gallery used more than one medium to express themselves such as oil on canvas, sculpture, and complex displays.”

The gallery included multiple forms of media including poetry, paintings and photography. “Having different forms of media also makes the gallery more interesting and interactive for the viewer,” Hubert said. “I included a collaborative poster in the gallery for people to contribute their own words of strength so they became a part of the gallery and in turn, a part of history”.

While the art gallery only lasted a week, there is a possibility it could grow in the coming years, perhaps including other Mercyhurst departments, such as Art Therapy Club. When asked about whether there were plans to make the art gallery stay up for the entirety of Black History Month (as opposed to a week) or to be hosted in a bigger venue on campus, Hubert responded by saying, “I think this is a great idea for the future! I first started out with the Hispanic Heritage Month pop-up art gallery as a one-day installation and expanded to a full week for Black History Month, so if there is interest and want in having a full month or longer gallery, I would be happy to host one.”

It is interesting to see how this gallery will expand in future years, and it is great to have
more opportunities on campus to celebrate cultures. “Oftentimes, I feel like Black History Month focuses too heavily on the strife and obstacles the Black community had and has to face,” Hubert said. “In this gallery, I wanted to really highlight images of Black history that often are not shown like smiling faces instead of brooding ones and bright colors instead of black and white photos of events that were not that long ago.”